The Legend of Zelda is 30 years old this year, and to celebrate, Nintendo are re-releasing an HD remaster of the first Wii Legend of Zelda game, also incidentally the last Gamecube Legend of Zelda game: Twilight Princess. The original Twilight Princess was released in 2006, ten years ago, so a remaster is definitely due. The HD remaster has a bunch of new features, including stamps, extra dungeons, amiibo support, and fully high-def updated graphics. Join me on an updated adventure around Hyrule as we swing swords, fling arrows, and kill bokoblins.
In Twilight Princess, the land of Hyrule has fallen into shadow. We’re talking literal shadow here, not the figurative stuff, and zones of mysterious twilight have appeared across the land. To counter the growing threat from shadowy fiends, our hero Link has to take up his sword and shield and boomerang and bow and… (Ed: I’m going to cut in here before he lists every item Link amasses…)
5 minutes’ worth of items later…
…and assorted bombs. It’s a lot of stuff to carry around. I’m not sure where Link finds space in his pockets for it all. Still, with his trusty steed, Epona, and his new guide, Midna, he sets off to try and bring light back to the world. Being in the twilight comes with its own challenges, though, as somehow, Link cannot sustain a human shape, and instead transforms into a wolf, exchanging sword for fangs.
For those of you who played Twilight Princess on the Wii, you might be interested to know that the standard mode of the HD remaster is actually the Gamecube version. Why is this relevant? Link is actually left handed and is depicted as such in the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess; however, because the majority of the players using the Wii would be right-handed, Nintendo’s developers mirror-flipped the entire game for the Wii. So for people like me who had very very recently played the Wii version of the game, everything to Link’s left would be on his right and vice versa. All references in the game made to “east” and “west” were swapped around as well. Why am I telling you this? Picture it: because I’d recently played the Wii version, my memory of where things were was still fairly clear. I strongly remember the spirit pool in Ordon being on the right side of the path, for example. Muscle memory can be a good or bad thing, and my case, my muscle memory kept steering me into walls or off cliffs that I had no intention of running off. Of course, if you DO want to play it in the Wii orientation, you can fire up a new game in Hero Mode, which is a harder version of the game with fewer fairies, fewer hearts, and more damage from foes.
The Wii U remaster of this game offers you two control methods: the Gamepad or the Pro Controller. No motion controls thank goodness, because I felt they made the game unnecessarily unwieldy (see what I did there?). Furthermore, moving the camera around is now a breeze, instead of having to enter the “look mode” on the Wii. Needless to say, I loved the return to traditional control systems. One unexpected side-effect of the return to regular controls was the fact that battles were now easier. Bosses I remember struggling with on the Wii are a joy to fight with. Not always without challenge, mind you, but the game felt far fairer now. The added benefit of using the Gamepad as your main controller is that you can switch between showing the inventory or a minimap on the Gamepad’s screen. It’s useful, but then there’s a very strange disconnect in having two inventory screens: one for managing the paraphernalia listed above in complete (Ed: heh heh heh) and one for everything else from shields, swords, bugs, letters, etc. It would have been useful to be able to access this second inventory from the Gamepad as well instead of having to check the main screen. And of course, there’s no need to hog the TV because the game supports off-TV play.
I ended up having to run both games side by side so I could get a decent comparison of them, and the Wii U remaster is absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed playing the game when I first encountered it on the Wii, and playing the HD remaster reaffirmed my enjoyment and love of this particular version of The Legend of Zelda. The story felt far more adult than, say, Skyward Sword, wasn’t quite as dark as Majora’s Mask, and the water temple was way more fun than Ocarina of Time. Hyrule was as much fun to explore as a Link Between Worlds, and overland puzzles that made exploration such a joy were amazing fun to play.
Typical for newer Wii U games, Twilight Princess HD comes with support for amiibo, and even celebrates this with a special edition Wolf Link amiibo. Using the Link, Zelda, or Ganondorf figures will allow you certain perks. Sorry. Did I say “perk”? Two out of three isn’t bad: the Ganondorf amiibo will make Link take double the damage. In Hero mode, this equates to four times the damage. I don’t know who needs that much challenge in their lives, but there you go. Incidentally, the Wolf Link amiibo unlocks a dungeon early on that you’d otherwise have to complete the game to achieve. The Wolf Link amiibo isn’t out yet, so I was unable to test this.
Naturally, I ran into a few minor problems with Twilight Princess HD, and the biggest issue was the janky camera, which would do some really odd acrobatics at times, especially when Link was on a ladder or in a tight space. Then there’s the interesting lack of reticule while aiming the slingshot or bow. Petty, I know, but it certainly made those weapons much harder to use initially, until I got used to the foibles of where those missiles landed. Another issue is that the first hour of the game can be tedious, but once you’ve gotten past that, the game is pure gold the rest of the way through. It’s difficult to otherwise fault.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD was one of the best games on the Wii, and without the motion control niggles, it’s a better game than before. The new look and Wii U integration makes it a better game than the Gamecube version. The Legend of Zelda has always been about the adventure, and there’s a really good reason it’s still going 30 years on. Here’s to the next 30 years of Legend of Zelda.